Gameworld: Tween players impacting online game development

Thu Sep 2, 2010 6:18am EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

BURBANK, California (Reuters) - A booming market of tweens is changing the landscape of online games.

This audience of boys and girls aged 8 to 11 has game publishers launching new games like Disney Online's "World of Cars Online" and Sony Online Entertainment's "Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures."

As these tweens grow older, they are also fueling the success of established online games like Blizzard Entertainment's "World of Warcraft" and Zynga's "Farmville."

In 2007, when children's marketing research firm KidSay asked boys what virtual worlds or online games they had visited in the past two weeks, 35 percent of boys aged 8 to 11 replied "none."

But a new M2 Research Report, "Kids and Games: What Boys and Girls Are Playing," found 91 percent of boys and 93 percent of girls aged 8-11 are playing games online on a regular basis.

"The number of families with broadband Internet access has increased substantially in the past several years and this has greatly helped make online gaming accessible to a younger audience," said Wanda Meloni, founder of M2 Research.

Over the past few years, video game publishers like Sony Online Entertainment, Electronic Arts and Disney Online have focused on creating new free-to-play gaming experiences like "Free Realms," "Monopoly Online" and "Pirates of the Caribbean Online" to a growing audience of young, connected kids.

It seems the strategy is paying off.   Continued...

<p>Visitors play ''World of Warcraft'' at their exhibition stand at the Gamescom 2010 fair in Cologne August 19, 2010. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender</p>